First, a disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and the opinions I am about to express should be considered as personal opinions, and in no way construed as medical advice.
The opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) and Cannabis sativa have a lot of things in common.
- Both have been cultivated by humans for thousands of years
- Both have been used medicinally over the same time span
- Both have had ridiculous laws enacted to restrict their cultivation
- It is illegal to grow opium poppies in the USA - but confusingly legal to grow the exact same plants for culinary or ornamental purposes. The only difference between the two is whether you are aware that ornamental somniferum poppies = opium poppies!
- I assume you already know the ridiculous laws regarding cannabis...
- Neither are as dangerous as any number of common garden plants, such as Oleander (a single leaf can kill a small child) or Foxglove.
- Both are used to manage pain
- Both have the potential for abuse
Now let's contrast the two plants
- The investigation and utilization of morphine and other opioids derived from the poppy plant represent one of the greatest, if not the greatest medical advance in history. Opioid drugs take a place at the side of other great discoveries, such as antibiotics, vaccines and germ theory. The ability to manage pain is fundamental to quality of life. At the same time, opioid drugs come with significant risks and side effects. Constipation, physical dependence, nausea, and overdose are some of the substantial risks of opioid treatment.
- Cannabis, on the other hand, is virtually unstudied by modern medicine. There is strong anecdotal evidence that it is therapeutic for a number of indications, including chronic pain. The side effects are also understudied in an scientific context - but one thing is clear - overdose is impossible.
Given epidemic of opioid overdoses in this country, I would suggest that any reasonable person would think that the investigation of the potential of cannabis in the treatment of chronic pain is not only justified, but that not doing so is a disservice to people suffering from pain everywhere.